BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS EVENT
VCW Commissioner Lisa Senecal (pictured above) introduced Governor Scott at the Breakfast of Champions event hosted by Vermont Women’s Fund, our partner and the main funder of Change The Story VT, our shared initiative. This sell out-event drew 450 participants to learn from internationally recognized activist and educator Ted Bunch, of A CALL TO MEN on issues of manhood, male socialization and its intersection with violence, and preventing violence against all women and girls. Among the giveaways, a postcard with 7 Things You Can Do on one side (pictured above) and commitment statement on the other. The cards were mailed back to participants after the event to remind them of commitments and to request they make their statements public on social media. See a sample, to the right:
"VERMONT WOMEN: THE PAY GAP, REPRESENTATION, AND ADVANCEMENT" FEATURING VCW'S CARY BROWN
Vermont Department of Libraries sponsors this lunch hour speaker series, focused on events or trends in Vermont that affect state employees. Tuesday, February 19 from 12-1pm at the Pavilion Auditorium in Montpelier more here.
VCW SUBMITS COMMENTS ON TITLE IX PROPOSED RULE CHANGES
VCW submitted comments as part of the public comments process on recent proposed changes by the U.S. Department of Education concerning schools' responses to campus sexual harassment and assault. Those proposed rule changes amend regulations under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities receiving federal funding. Read our comments here.
LEGISLATION OF INTEREST TO WOMEN
One of our functions is to provide information about how proposed legislation may impact Vermont women and girls. In the 2019 session, we contributed to the discussions on:
Preserving the Right to Abortion, H.57
Increasing the Minimum Wage, S.23
Sexual Harassment, Act 183
REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT PUBLIC EDUCATION & OUTREACH PROGRAM ISSUED
In 2018, the Vermont General Assembly passed Act 183, directing the Vermont Commission on Women, in consultation with the Vermont Attorney General and the Vermont Human Rights Commission, to develop a public education and outreach program designed to make Vermont employees, employers, and members of the public aware of:
- Methods for reporting employment and work-related discrimination and sexual harassment;
Where to find information regarding:
- laws related to work-related discrimination and sexual harassment
- best practices for preventing employment and work-related discrimination and sexual harassment
- Methods for preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace
This work has been divided into two projects now open for proposals through the state government public bid process:
Sexual Harassment and Work-Related Discrimination Resource Collection and Development
- Sexual Harassment and Work-Related Discrimination Public Education and Outreach Campaign
Learn more about this project at https://women.vermont.gov/Sexual_Harassment.
VCW is part of the planning committee for the New England Women’s Policy Conference which took place Friday, November 16th 2018, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, on the UMass Boston campus. This energetic day-long regional conference, featuring keynote speaker Tarana Burke, founder of the #metoo movement, and including ample opportunity for cross-sector dialogue, learning, and collaboration attracts 450+ leaders of ALL ages – women and men – from diverse communities and organizations in the six New England states with the shared goal of creating sustainable economic and social change for women and their families. Workshop tracks included the following themes: Policy Solutions for Low-Wage Workers; Sexual Harassment in the Workplace; Achieving Equal Pay - State Legislative Lessons and Wins. VCW’s own Cary Brown and Lisa Senecal are featured workshop panelists, along with Vermonters Representative Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, Melissa Battah, and Kesha Ram. NEW this year: a special workshop track for politically ambitious young women leaders, facilitated by non-partisan IGNITE! High school and college age women in this track will receive both policy and political training, encouraging the next generation of women leaders. Tickets for this special track are $25- students registering will place VCW in sponsor information.
LISTENING PROJECT SURVEY + EVENTS
The Vermont Commission on Women would like to know about the most important issues facing women in Vermont. We are doing this survey to learn about what is working well, and what is not working well. Anything you share with us will help us understand how we can best help women in Vermont. Your answers to this survey are completely anonymous and confidential. Nobody will know what answers you gave, so you can feel free to tell us whatever you want. The survey closed on October 31, 2018.
LISTENING PROJECT VIDEO, FROM CHANGE THE STORY VT
LISTENING PROJECT EVENTS
St. Albans community members shared thoughts about what needs aren’t being met for Vermont women, what most affects their abilities to provide for themselves or their families, and what can be done to help at this Public Meeting to discuss Economic Challenges in Franklin County at City Hall in St. Albans on Thursday, September 27th. A panel of local experts kicked it off, featuring: Belinda Bessette of Northwestern Counseling & Support Services, Gretchen DeHart of Community College of Vermont, Natalie Glynn of Let’s Grow Kids, Ashley Moore of Main Street Alliance, Denise Smith of RiseVT. These experts briefly addressing conditions for women and girls in Franklin County, fleaving time for audience discussion. Results from our statewide Listening Project survey launched this spring indicate top areas of concern to Franklin County women and their families include: health care, child care, paid family and medical leave, education, and mental health. Learn more here. Thanks to event planners,VCW Commissioners Danielle Martel, Melinda Moulton, Gretchen Bailey and Charlotte Dennett. Stay tuned in early 2019 for survey report!
Brattleboro area residents shared their story at the Vermont Commission on Women’s Listening Project event hosted by area Commissioners Emilie Kornheiser, Kerry Secrest and Carol Buchdahl at Brooks Memorial Library on Wednesday, September 26th from 6:00 -7:30 pm. Hosted by local Vermont Commission on Women Commissioners, this public discussion centered Economic Challenges in Windham county. Participants shared thoughts about what needs aren’t being met for Vermont women, what most affects their abilities to provide for themselves or their families, and what can be done to help. Learn more here. Stay tuned in early 2019 for survey report!
Newport community residents gathered on Friday October 5th to participate in a factilitated discussion about what they see as top areas of concern for Newport/NEK area's women and girls. This guided conversation was facilitated by Commissioners Lisa Senecal, Marybeth Redmond, Mary Daley and Kellie Campbell, resulting in very engaged participation. Special thanks to former Commissioner Barbara Morrow for aiding this gathering. We'll be gathering up all survey input, including these event outcomes, our interviews, and our statewide survey results, and producing a report, slated for presentation at our legislative lunch in early January, 2019.
VIDEOS: PREGNANCY-RELATED WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATIONS
Learn more about workplace protections for Vermont’s pregnant workers. What are reasonable accommodations? What do you need to know as an employer or HR (human resources) manager to comply with Vermont law?
Learn more about working while you’re pregnant in Vermont. Here’s what you need to know about asking for what you need stay healthy on the job.
LEGISLATION OF INTEREST TO WOMEN
One of our functions is to provide information about how proposed legislation may impact Vermont women and girls. In the 2018 session, we contributed to the discussions on:
Equal Pay | Salary History, H.294 and S.275
Increasing the Minimum Wage, S.40
Paid Family Leave, H.196
Sexual Harassment, H.707
Systemic Racism Mitigation Oversight and Equity Review Board, S.281
Accommodations for Pregnant Employees, H.136
VCW IN THE NEWS
Read all about it: find newsclips here.
SPRING SALARY NEGOTIATION WORKSHOPS IN RUTLAND, ST. JOHNSBURY & NEWPORT
Choosing not to negotiate is leaving some serious money on the table. Over 50% of women say they are apprehensive about negotiating and only 30% of women consistently negotiate salaries. For many of us, even the thought of negotiating makes us nervous. How much do I ask for? When is the best time to do it? What if I don't feel like I deserve more? This workshop teaches women how to negotiate with confidence. Vermont Commission on Women's Rutland and St. Johnsbury workshops were sponsored by the New England Women’s Policy Initiative, and all were facilitated by the fabulous Lindsey Lathrop, Career Coach at FromWithin Coaching.
Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines STUDENT WEBSITE WINS DEBORAH PICKMAN CLIFFORD AWARD AT VT HISTORY DAY, 2018
Applause and cheers to CVU high school student Kali Adams. Her website, “Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines” won the Deborah Pickman Clifford prize at the Vermont Historical Society’s Vermont History Day. The site explores Vermont’s 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, her early years, how she developed as an activist, and her legacy, particularly inspirational for young women! Ms. Adams, a two-time winner of this prize, placed second in her contest category and qualified for National History Day in June. For many years, VCW Commissioner Ruth Finn has judged this day-long contest, and has awarded the Deborah Pickman Clifford prize to the most outstanding entry related to Vermont women who have contributed to our state, or to the role that women have played in Vermont’s history. Deborah Pickman Clifford was a historian and author specializing in women’s history, who left our citizens an important legacy, including a collection of biographies, "More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Vermont Women," published in 2009. VCW’s Education and Research Foundation funds this cash prize.
EQUAL PAY DAY 2018: TUESDAY, APRIL 10 | VERMONT STATE HOUSE
Equal Pay Day’s date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year due to the gender wage gap.
The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW), the League of Women Voters of Vermont, and Business and Professional Women (BPW) VT oordinate this annual gathering of advocates at the State House on Equal Pay Day, (this year Tuesday, April 10th) to draw public attention to the gender wage gap in our state. Upon opening of the day’s legislative session, a resolution designating it Equal Pay Day in Vermont was put forth by lead sponsor Representative Mollie Burke and other policymakers, and observed by advocates dressed in red, symbolizing women being “in the red” due to the gender wage gap. Link to this Equal Pay Day resolution, HCR 323, here. HUGE thanks to all who stood with us: AAUW of Vermont; LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont; our representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Patrick Leahy, and Peter Welch; VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Women Business Owners Network: Voices for Vermont's Children; Rights and Democracy; Change The Story VT; Vermont Works for Women; and The Vermont Women's Fund.
Governor Scott signed an Equal Pay Day proclamation in his ceremonial office with speakers addressing various aspects of the wage gap in Vermont. Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant, UVM's Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs gave an address weaving the personal, the political, and the facts about the wage gap and women of color. Alice Kitchel spoke about the work of her organization, Business and Professional Women (BPW) VT, to engage, mentor and teach women to lead in both business and in thier personal lives. Cary Brown, VCW's Executive Director spoke about what the wage gap is and what it looks like in Vermont.
Change The Story VT (CTS) along with Vermont Business and Professional Women invite policy makers and guests to enjoy coffee in the cafeteria after lunch, to mark Equal Pay Day and share information about how the gender wage gap impacts Vermonters. CTS partner Vermont Works for Women will provide their delicious Peanut Butter Bars by suggested wage gap-related donation.
We’re excited to be joined in the State House by advocates participating in the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence’s annual Legislative Day!
MAY DAY! MAY DAY! Screwnomics Book Launch
7:00 PM, Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Bear Pond Books, 77 Main Street, Montpelier VT
This FREE book launch celebration and discussion on the state of women's economics features Screwnomics author Rickey Gard Diamond and VCW's Executive Director Cary Brown. Screwnomics issues a wake-up call for today's women to join what has been a nearly exclusively male conversation for the past 2,500 years. It explains the sexual history of economics, and the unspoken but widely applied economic theory that females, including our mother earth, should always work for less, or better, for free. Illustrated by Peaco Todd, Kirkus Reviews says about Screwnomics, "A smart, comprehensive economics guide with a feminist twist...her experience as a novelist, journalist, and professor are all brought to bear to demystify difficult concepts...informative and fun." All welcome! More info here.
Friday, March 23 | 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
The River Garden, 157 Main Street | Brattleboro
Vermont Commission on Women's Emilie Kornheiser leads this Brattleboro area discussion on opportunities for our community, economy, and families as we move towards equal rights for all. All community members are invited to share their perspective on the place, needs, and strengths of women. Bring your own brown bag lunch. Part of the fabulous Strolling of the Heifers noontime Brown Bag Lunch series.
Sexual harassment and abuse charges against powerful personalities has created a kind of public reckoning. Our shared voices in the media and the #MeToo movement are driving change, yet pushing back against the behavior patterns of sexual harassment, so common in workplaces across the country, is not easy. Social mores and norms are deeply embedded in all of us. When is it safe to speak up? What happens if we do say something? Who do we turn to if we decide to speak up? How might the passage of new laws in Vermont change the climate? Join GBWF for a panel discussion, featuring VCW's Lisa Senecal, looking at sexual harassment in the workplace. Learn about workplace options: human resources, employee assistance programs—how these parts of our workplace can help and what the limitations might be. We’ll have an overview of the current bill in the Vermont legislature, what it is trying to do and what it might mean. We’ll talk about strategies to take care of yourself when you experience harassment at work, how we can start to be more proactive and how we might respond if we are harassed. Come and listen to the experiences of others; there will be time after the panel for discussion.
Vermont Commission on Women and Let’s Grow Kids released this co-authored white paper on International Women's Day, 3/18/18. The paper examines the intersection of child care, our economy, and gender equity.
People struggle to determine what the best or most helpful course of action would be if they witness sexual harassment in the workplace. If you find yourself in a bystander situation, here are some ways you can help.
In January 2017, a bill (H. 136) was introduced in the Vermont Legislature that would ensure healthy pregnant workers in Vermont receive reasonable workplace accommodations such as having access to water, access to a stool or a chair, longer or more frequent restroom breaks, or avoiding heavy lifting. The bill was signed into law May 4th!
Read the new law here.
Read VCW's testimony on H.136 here.
Read VCW’s press release, New Protections for Pregnant Workers here.
Read VCW's policy brief for more information about these protections.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE TASKFORCE
At the end of the 2017 legislative session, VCW was placed on an 8-member Spousal Support and Maintenance Task Force created for the purpose of reviewing and making legislative recommendations to Vermont’s alimony laws. As well as research and information, VCW collected and presented the stories of Vermont women on this issue at a taskforce public hearing in November.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND ASSAULT IN THE WORKPLACE
VCW Commissioner Lisa Senecal joined Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour along with Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women's Law Center, Melissa Silverstein of Women & Hollywood, and Leigh Gilmore of Wellesley College to discuss sexual harassment, assault, and the #MeToo campaign. Commissioner Senecal continues to write and speak out as a national thought leader on this issue in USA Today, National Public Radio, the Daily Beast and other media outlets. She collaborated with Rep. Copeland-Hanzas on VPR's Vermont Edition show on February 15th, link: VPR Vt Edition: Sexual Harassment Bill Aims To Protect Victims' Rights.
SEN. LEAHY’S WEOC 2017: WOMEN’S ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY CONFERENCE
VCW serves on the planning committee of Senator Leahy’s free and fabulous conference every year. 500 registered for the September 2017 event and our initiative, Change The Story served as the theme and focus of lively workshops and discussions on how to improve women’s economic status. VCW’s Cary Brown lead the afternoon session with data and information from Change The Story, VCW Commissioner Colin Ryan shared his dual powers of storytelling and galvanizing action in that same PM session. Pictured (L to R) Change The Story's Jessica Nordhaus, Marcelle Leahy, Sen. Leahy, Vermont Women's Fund Director Meg Smith, Change The Story's Tiffany Blumele, VCW Director Cary Brown.
Child marriage occurs when one or both parties are under 18 years old at the time of the marriage, and it happens in the U.S., and it's legal in every state, including Vermont. 57,800 minors aged 15 to 17 were married in the U.S. in 2014. Approximately 90% of the children married in recent years were girls. Read VCW's new policy brief here.
The wage gap tends to grow during the course of a career. Raises, bonuses, and even salaries at new jobs are frequently based on current earnings and salary history; for women and minorities already being paid less, this perpetuates the wage gap. In Vermont, a bill (H.294) was introduced that would prohibit employers from requesting or requiring an applicant’s salary history until after they’ve made an offer for employment, including an initial salary offer. Read VCW's info sheet for more information.
EQUAL PAY DAY 2017
Tuesday, April 4th was Equal Pay Day. Throughout the nation, women’s organizations observe Equal Pay Day each April, symbolizing how far into the new year the average American woman would have to work to earn what the average American man did in the previous year due to the gender wage gap. Events at the State House included an Equal Pay Day “Women and Leadership” Press Conference at 12:00 in the Cedar Creek Room. Advocates for equal pay at this press conference addressed the gender wage gap and unveiled Change The Story's new “Vermont Women and Leadership” report. Change The Story is an initiative of the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW), the Vermont Women’s Fund, and Vermont Works for Women designed to fast-track women’s economic status in our state. The report reveals new data about participation of women in various leadership roles in Vermont, including federal, state and municipal government, Abenaki Nations, academia, law enforcement, and the corporate and non-profit sectors. By some measures, Vermont is a national pacesetter in its share of women in key leadership positions. By others, women’s leadership status lags behind other states. Overall, Vermont women have yet to achieve equal representation as leaders in any but a few political, civic or professional realms.
The press conference featured: Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson, State Treasurer Beth Pearce, Vermont Tech President Pat Moulton, Melody Brook of the Abenaki Women's Council and VT Commission on Native American Affairs, Joe Fusco of UVM's Grossman School of Business and VP at Casella Waste Systems, Jen Kimmich Co-founder/Owner of The Alchemist, and VCW Executive Director, Cary Brown. Members of Women’s Caucus of the Legislature, the League of Women Voters of VT, VT Federation of Business and Professional Women joined the group of approximately 100 present. Advocates wore the traditional red to symbolize women being “in the red” due to the gender wage gap on this day. Read the report here. Read more about this event in the press release here. Watch a video of the Equal Pay Day Press Conference here. Additional Equal Pay Day events included:
Equal Pay Day Resolution. Link to: House Concurrent Resolution 97, a resolution recognizing Equal Pay Day
Equal Pay Day Proclamation Signing | 11:30 AM | Governor’s ceremonial office. Read the proclamation here.
Equal Pay Day Facebook Event Page link here.
Sen. Sanders' Equal Pay Day statement, here.
Watch our Facebook stream video from this event below:
WOMEN AND 1970'S COUNTERCULTURE, 2017 Women's History Month Event
The 1970s saw incredible advancements in public engagement with, and recognition of, women’s rights. This flowering of second-wave feminism had a far-reaching impact on American society. What was it like for women who participated in the counterculture during that time? What challenges did they face, and what opportunities did they find? How was women’s experience in Vermont unique, and what did it share with the rest of the country? How does it relate to the current generation of young women? In our annual partnership with the Vermont Historical Society (VHS) to honor Women's History Month (March), we presented this free evening roundtable discussion, "Women of the Counterculture Movement in 1970s Vermont" at the Vermont History Center in Barre. Rescheduled (due to winter storm) to Wednesday, March 22nd at 6:00. This event was moderated by Amanda Gustin, Vermont Historical Society's Public Program Coordinator, and featured Euan Bear, Bridget Downey-Meyer, Louise Andrews, Melinda Moulton and Verandah Porche, reflecting on what brought them into this movement, what their experience was like, and what lasting impact it’s had on their own lives and on Vermont society. A truly engaging and provocative discussion!
Read historian Cyndy Bittinger's Women of the Counterculture in 1970s Vermont piece from Vermont Woman's April/May 2017 Issue.
VPR's Women's History Month 2017 Commentary Series
Along with the Vermont Historical Society, we're also honored to work with Vermont Public Radio offering this annual corresponding-themed commentary series:
*panelists at our event. Special note: Melinda serves as a VCW Commissioner. Read more about past women's history month celebrations and themes here. More 2017 Counterculture event details on our Facebook event page here.
CONFISCATION OF DANGEROUS OR DEADLY WEAPONS BILL
VCW testified on House bill H. 422, a bill proposing to provide removal of deadly weapons from the scene of an incident of domestic violence. Read our testimony here.
PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE INSURANCE BILL
VCW's Cary Brown spoke at the introduction of H.196, bill proposing to create a Family Leave Insurance Program within the Department of Labor that will provide employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave and that will be funded by contributions from employers and employees. Cary's comments included findings from VCW's feasibility study: “Women in Vermont are already lagging behind men in their earnings, part of the reason why this is true is because there’s a disproportionate expectation that women will be the ones who’ll take time off from work, take time out of the workforce in order to care for babies, children, aging parents, other family members. Just in general, women are taking on more of those responsibilities. Paid family and medical leave insurance is one way to help offset that disproportionality. This was why VCW sought and received a grant from US DOL to conduct a feasibility study. We came up with some interesting findings: new moms with access to paid family leave work more hours, and return to work…They are 39 % less likely to rely on public assistance. That would translate to up to $271,000 savings to Vermonters. Additionally, in Vermont we’d see a $277,000 savings in costs due to infants being born healthy…and if we had a program, between 2 and 3.4 million dollars Vermont families would save, due to reduced child care costs. We could see an estimated 1800 Vermonters elevated above the poverty threshold, who would otherwise be below.”
Watch an Orca Media video of the press conference here.
View VCW's feasibility study presentation, submitted to committee considering H.196, the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, here.
Read the full study report, also submitted the Committee, here.
In the U.S., 47 states have a sales tax, and most of those apply the tax to the sale of feminine hygiene products. Some states apply a luxury tax to these products. Taxation of feminine hygiene products has garnered international attention in recent years, and Connecticut, New York, Illinois, and Canada passed legislation to exclude feminine hygiene products from tax in 2016. In 2017, a number of states are considering bills that would do the same. In Vermont, a bill (H.43) has been introduced that would add feminine hygiene products to the list of items excluded from sales tax. Read VCW's fact sheet for more information.
VCW was asked to testify on H.63 and H.93, bills address raising the minimum wage. VCW's Executive Director Cary Brown provided information about how this legislation might impact women. Read her testimony here. A few data highlights from the testimony:
• In Vermont, women working full-time are 1.3 times as likely as men to earn less than $10.10 an hour
• Women in Vermont are over twice as likely as men to work in part-time jobs which are more likely to pay minimum wage.
• A higher minimum wage is linked to smaller pay gaps between men and women.
In our February 8th meeting, VCW voted to become a member of the Vermont Raise the Wage Coalition.
LEARN ABOUT CHANGE THE STORY VERMONT - WATCH THIS:
VCW'S CARY BROWN ON COMCAST NEWSMAKERS SHOW
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Learn about (and plan) conferences, meetings and workshops for women and girls by using our event calendar tool.
Easy to use, easy to add events to, and super mobile-friendly, this new calendar feature is an extension of VCW’s efforts to facilitate collaboration between Vermont organizations doing work with women and girls, and to increase public awareness and participation of these activities.